Modern Twist: Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Art

“Unlike the ceramist, for whom the fires of the kiln play an important role in the outcome, the bamboo artist bears full responsibility for every step of the creative process. Without splitting the bamboo and working through each of the various steps oneself, one cannot get the ‘feel’ of each individual bamboo culm and thus know for what kind of piece it will be best suited. And there are no shortcuts in bamboo—there is no way to mechanize the process.”

–  Modern Twist artist and Living National Treasure Fujinuma Noboru, excerpt from Masters of Bamboo by Melissa Rinne

Modern Twist explores the evocative, sensual, and sculptural power of contemporary bamboo art.

Bamboo is a quintessential part of Japanese culture, shaping the country’s social, artistic, and spiritual landscape. Although bamboo is a prolific natural resource, it is a challenging artistic medium. There are fewer than 100 professional bamboo artists in Japan today. Mastering the art form requires decades of meticulous practice while learning how to harvest, split, and plait the bamboo. Modern Twist brings 38 exceptional works by 17 artists to U.S. audiences, displaying many of these technically innovative and imaginatively crafted works for the first time.

Since 1967, six bamboo artists have been named Living National Treasures. The Japanese government created this award after World War II in an effort to celebrate and preserve the nation’s traditions and culture. Only two living bamboo artists —Modern Twist’s Katsushiro Sōhō (2005) and Fujinuma Noboru (2012)—currently hold this title.

In addition, Modern Twist features works by other visionary artists: Matsumoto Hafū, Honma Hideaki, Ueno Masao, Uematsu Chikuyū,Nagakura Ken’ichi, Tanabe Chikuunsai III, Tanabe Yōta, Tanabe Shōchiku III, Tanioka Shigeo, Tanioka Aiko, Honda Shōryū, Mimura Chikuhō, Nakatomi Hajime, Sugiura Noriyoshi, and Yonezawa Jirō.

Modern Twist demonstrates that in the hands of master bamboo artists, a simple grass is transformed into a sculptural art. The exhibition celebrates these artists who have helped to redefine a traditional craft as a modern genre, inventing unexpected new forms and pushing the medium to groundbreaking levels of conceptual, technical, and artistic ingenuity.

The exhibition is curated by Dr. Andreas Marks, head of the Department of Japanese and Korean Art and Director of the Clark Center at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The exhibition was generously supported by the E. Rhodes & Leona B. Carpenter Foundation. The catalogue was supported by the Nomura Foundation, Japan Foundation, Los Angeles, Eric and Karen Ende, Alexandra and Dennis Lenehan, Gilda and Henry Buchbinder, and the Snider Family Fund.

Number of Works:
38 works of bamboo by 17 artists
Organized by:
The Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture
Dr. Andreas Marks, Director and Chief Curator of the Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture
Approximate size:
3,000 square feet
Moderate security
Participation Fee:
IA&A makes all arrangements; exhibitors pay outgoing shipping within contiguous U.S.
Booking Period:
12 weeks
November 2012 – July 2017
Fully Booked
Education Materials:
Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue, WA
November 13, 2012 – February 3, 2013

Dennos Museum Center, Traverse City, MI
February 22, 2013 – June 1, 2013

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, MI
June 22, 2013 – September 15, 2013

Kean University Art Galleries, Union, NJ
October 7, 2013 – February 7, 2014

Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art, Nashville, TN
March 22, 2014 – May 26, 2014

Alden B. Dow Museum of Science & Art, Midland Center for the Arts, Midland, MI
June 14, 2014 – September 7, 2014

Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Kahului, HI
October 11, 2014 – December 21, 2014

Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts at the Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, FL
January 31, 2015 – April 26, 2015

Grace Hudson Museum & Sun House, Ukiah, CA
May 30, 2015 – August 30, 2015

Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, CA
September 19, 2015 – January 3, 2016

Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, Sonoma, CA
March 12, 2016 – June 12, 2016

Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center, Lake Charles, LA
July 15, 2016 – October 1, 2016

Asia Society Texas Center, Houston, TX
January 28, 2017 – July 30, 2017